Monday, May 27, 2013

Connecticut Open House Day June 8 2013

For info on 2014 CT Open House click HERE


The Connecticut State Tourism Office recently asked me to be part of their "Street Team" and participate in Open House Day on Saturday, June 8th.

The good news?  You can take advantage of this great Open House Day, right along with me!

June 8th is Connecticut Open House Day!

Many of the cities and town museums, cafes, restaurants, parks, art spaces, and loads of places across the great state of Connecticut will be throwing open their doors to welcome all of us inside!

Most are offering deeply discounted admittance - and others are entirely free! 

Click here for a complete listing of participating places: CT Open House June 8th 2013

I'll be attending a few of these places too!

Since I'll be in Fairfield county for another event in the afternoon, I'll be visiting:

Sweet & Simple: offering free samples from 8 a.m.- 2 p.m. of the newest product from The Farmer’s Cow, The Farmer’s Cow Ice Cream Cookie Sandwiches, featuring cookies baked with love by Sweet & Simple. Also offering complimentary cookies. Sweet and Simple is located at 75 Hillside Rd. Fairfield, CT (203) 292-8992. 

Meet Michelle, the owner of Sweet & Simple

and I'll also spend time at

Bellarmine Museum of Art:  Free family day activities from 1 p.m. until 4 p.m. Museum will be open from noon until 5 p.m. The museum is located at Fairfield University 1073 North Benson Rd. Fairfield, CT (203) 254-4046

Here's their calendar for June 2013 or click HERE for current listings.

And there is much more - all across our wonderful state!

Don't forget to mark this on your calendars!  A wonderful way to see some of Connecticut's best reduced rates!

Follow the Connecticut Tourism social media sites for information on all CT attractions! 

Click here for a complete listing of participating places: CT Open House June 8th 2013 

Disclaimer:  I was offered the opportunity to participate with the CT Tourism Office as a member of the Street Team as part of their "Connecticut...Still Revolutionary" promotion. All opinions expressed are my own.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

The Mediterraneo Restaurant at the Hotel Zero Degrees in Norwalk CT

This week we were invited to the the Mediterraneo Restaurant at the Hotel Zero Degrees in Norwalk Connecticut for their Fairfield County Food Writers Dinner.
Mediterraneo Restaurant
Mediterraneo Restaurant
The restaurant and hotel are located in Norwalk, CT with easy access from both I-95 and CT-15, as well as MetroNorth. If you're not familiar with the area, Norwalk is a short 40 miles away from New York City, and located in Connecticut's beautiful Fairfield county.

We arrived and were greeted by Mia, one of the development officers for the Hotel Zero Degrees, who had organized the event. Mia then led us on a quick tour of the Hotel Zero Degrees, visiting the Zen Den, banquet and community room, exercise room, deluxe room accommodations, and the amazing Sky Top 353 Rooftop Lounge.
Hotel Zero Degrees and the Mediterraneo Restaurant in Norwalk
L-R Top: Zen Den, Breakfast Room, 353 Sky Top Lounge
L-R Bottom: Exercise Room, Zen Den, Classic Queen Accommodations
The light filled modern building is built of sustainable materials, eco-friendly, and offers a panoramic view of the Norwalk River and a lovely waterfall.
Norwalk River Waterfall from Mediterraneo in Norwalk
View of the waterfall from the dining room
Dining at the Mediterraneo Restaurant in Norwalk
Each of the 120 tables in the dining room has a panoramic view of the river
Executive Chef, Albert DeAngelis, greeted each of the tables prior to our sampling. Chef Albert's background in French and Mediterranean preparation was apparent, as his dishes displayed both the influence of his training in sauces and use of fresh seafood, along with his Italian heritage and twenty years of culinary experience.
Chef Albert with Kristien and Dan Del Ferraro of OmNomCT
Owner of the Z Hospitality Group, Ramze Zakka, was also there, and took the time to welcome each of us to his beautiful hotel and restaurant. The Z Group also operates the Acqua Ristorante in Westport, Sole Ristorante in New Canaan, Mediterraneo of Greenwich, Aurora in Rye NY, and the Terra Ristorante Italiano in Greenwich.
Ramze Zakka greets the contingencies from New London and New Haven County
And we started the night off with a toast to the good times and great food that we knew would follow.

Appetizer Sample: 
Black Sea Bass Crudo-Citrus-Seaweed-EVOO-Dauno Gargano
Paired with: 
Inama, Soave Classico-Italy 2011
Black Sea Bass Crudo at the Mediterraneo Restaurant
Light, fresh, and full of citrus. A great way to start the night.
Appetizer Sample: 
Chilled Cucumber-Avocado Purée - Colossal Crab
Paired with: 
Botani Moscatel, Muscat - Spain 2011
Chilled Cucumber-Avocado Purée - Colossal Crab at the Mediterraneo Restaurant
Great flavor, a touch of 'heat' from the sriracha, topped with a large piece of succulent crab meat.

Appetizer Sample: 
Red Curry Prince Edward Island Mussels-Fava Beans and Cilantro
Paired with: 
Hugel, Gewurtztaiminer - France 2011
Red Curry Prince Edward Island Mussels at the Mediterraneo Restaurant
My favorite appetizer of the night. The mussels were PERFECTLY prepared, and the red curry broth was amazing.

Appetizer Sample: 
Mini Maine Lobster Roll-Harissa-Pickled Ramp
Paired with: 
Fertuna Dorppelo, Sangiveses & Sauvignon Blanc - Italy 2011
Mini Maine Lobster Roll-Harissa-Pickled Ramp at the Mediterraneo Restaurant
Chock full of fresh lobster. Great flavors and my very first pickled ramp. I like it!

Salad Sample: 
Grilled Sucrine-Niman Bacon-Buttermilk-Maytag Blue
Paired with: 
Villa Antinori, Super Tuscan - Italy 2008
Grilled Sucrine-Niman Bacon-Buttermilk-Maytag Blue
The sucrine lettuce was complimented by the tart buttermilk blue cheese dressing.
The slight grilling intensified the sweetness of the sugar lettuce.

Appetizer Sample: 
Crispy Soft Shell Crab-Citron Vinegar - Espelette
Paired with: 
Taittinger, Champagne - France NV
Crispy Soft Shell Crab at the Mediterraneo Restaurant
Again, perfectly cooked and prepared. The batter was light and airy and the crab was deliciously fresh.
And who would have thought to pair a champagne with a crispy seafood - yes, it worked!

Pasta Sample: 
Scallop Ravioli-roasted Cauliflower-Marcona Almonds
Paired with: 
Teruzzi & Puthod, Terre Di Tufi - Italy 2011
Scallop Ravioli-Roasted Cauliflower-Marcona Almonds at the Mediterraneo Restauran
The scallop mixture, the dense pasta, along with the combination of earthy nuts and creamy cauliflower put us over the top into ravioli heaven!
Entree Sample: 
Parmesan Crusted West Coast Halibut
Paired with:
Chamisal, Chardonnay - California 2011
Parmesan Crusted West Coast Halibut at the Mediterraneo Restaurant
A wonderfully crusty Parmesan coating, light buttery sauce, and flaky halibut.

Entree Sample: 
Zatar Spiced Lamb Chop - Braised Artichoke - Tomato Confit
Paired with: 
Silvio Nardi, Rosso Di Montalcino - Italy 2010
Zatar Spiced Lamb Chop - Braised Artichoke - Tomato Confit at the Mediterraneo Restaurant
My favorite entree of the night: Salty coating on the outside - perfectly 'rested' medium rare lamb chop.

Dessert Sample: 
Biscotti -Truffles-Berries

Dessert Sample: 
Warm Anise Shortbread-Rhubarb-Berry Compote-Vanilla Gelato
Paired with American coffee
Warm Anise Shortbread-Rhubarb-Berry Compote-Vanilla Gelato at the Mediterraneo Restaurant
Wonderfully warm compote with a sweet, tart berry rhubarb mix over vanilla gelato.
Comfort food at its best. 

There is nothing better than GREAT FOOD and SUPERB SERVICE in a warm and welcoming atmosphere. The Mediterraneo Restaurant at the Hotel Zero in Norwalk CT has all that, and more!

I was also happy to finally meet some fellow bloggers that I've followed for awhile, Maria from Pappa Don't Preach, and the OmNomCT writers, Kristien and Dan Del Ferraro.

And here's a picture of my dining companions from the evening.
L-R, Jenny Sweet Jenny's, Terese & Emily SECTKids, Wendy & Greg CTBloggers, and me Home Place

I can't wait to return with the cowboy to the Mediterraneo!

This will be our 'must stop' in Norwalk!

The Mediterraneo Restaurant at the Hotel Zero Degrees in Norwalk
353 Main Avenue
Norwalk, CT 06851

Phone: 203.750.9800

View the Mediterraneo Menu: HERE

Have you visited any of the establishments owned by the Z Hospitality Group?

Any comments or questions on the food we sampled?

I'd love to hear about it in the comments below!

Disclaimer: I was invited to the Mediterraneo Restaurant as the guests of Z Hospitality Group. All opinions and views expressed are my own.

Mediterraneo on Urbanspoon

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Mystic Aquarium in Mystic CT for Mother's Day 2013

This weekend the wonderful folks at the Mystic Aquarium invited some of the local Connecticut blogging community to attend as their guests for a special Mother's Day Weekend celebration (#MysticMoms).

The Mystic Research Aquarium has all sorts of specials each month that are available for everyone! For the month of May they are offering two great discounts! A discount on lunch and moms get in free on May 11th and May 12th in conjunction with a child's admission, check the website for exact details.  And check their website each month for all their special offers! Hmmmm. I wonder what June has to offer!

The cowboy and I were looking forward to learning more about marine life as the aquarium is a recognized oceanic research facility!  Of course, we were also excited about meeting up with some of the other local bloggers.

As we entered we were greeted by the staff photographer who luckily snapped our picture.
Photo credit: Mystic Aquarium
Luckily - because about 20 minutes later the skies opened up and I was drenched.  The photos are moderately priced, from $35.00 for an entire package of a couple of 3 x 5's and some souvenir trinkets along with a photo folder of a 5 x 7 of your family (as pictured above) with a 5 x 7 of one of the park's beluga's whale. Not too bad if you want a souvenir of your visit. And I'm happy we purchased ours as every other picture of me from this day has me soaking wet! We purchased the single folder that included the picture above on one side, and on the other side one of the beluga whales for $22.00 plus tax.  A nice keepsake to remember the day!

We started off by visiting with our new friends, the beluga whales. It appears we were there right at feeding time because they were up and about and swimming around like crazy.  They are such beautiful creatures.

We also popped in to the "pet a stingray" tank where all the little ones were getting an absolute thrill about being able to touch these fellers.

Then we moved on to the sea lions where we met Stephen and Jordan. Nope, Stephen and Jordan aren't sea lions, you sillies, they are two volunteers at the park!

Today was Jordan's first day working at the park, and she was so excited.  I asked if they had to volunteer at the park as part of a school community or service project, and she said no, that she is a marine biology enthusiast and was doing it for the love of the sea creatures!  What a great kid! Stephen explained that new volunteers are paired up with senior volunteers who shadow them until they can go out on their own.  Hmmmm. A real Mother's Day reference...don't you think?! (chuckle)

Our next stop was with the penguins and I could have stayed there all day and watched those cute little guys and girls!  They would all gather on this one rock cliff.

Then, patiently line up, one by one.

And then they would take turns diving off the rock - unbelievably cute!

There was also an area where you could watch them swimming under water!

We then moved on to the seal tank where we learned all about seal habits.

And then the skies opened up with a spring shower downpour! So we scampered back towards the entrance to move inside to the gift store. And BINGO - rain ponchos!
Thank goodness for the clear plastic rain gear!  Only $2.95 for children and  $3.25 for adults! 

We then moved on to the snack bar for our complimentary blogger lunch.  A couple of cheeseburgers, hot dogs and fries, and some fountain soda Barq's Root Beer.

We also learned that straws aren't allowed on premise at Mystic Aquarium because of the choking hazard they pose to the sea animals.  Good to know!  Please don't carelessly dispose of items like this near ANY body of water where animals live, be it the beach or a lake, or an aquarium!

The highlight of lunch?  Meeting up with some great CT Bloggers we know!  Hilary from My Own Blog Review and Wendy from Connecticut Bloggers!

L-R, Hilary, Wendy, and me
 After lunch, we moved inside to the indoor exhibitions.  Below see some of the highlights from inside:

All in all we had a wonderful time visiting the Mystic Aquarium!  It's a great place for a day trip in CT and out of state-ers could certainly make a weekend of it as there are loads of family-friendly things to do in the immediate area. Shopping at the quaint Old Mistick Village and a visit to the Historic Mystic Seaport.  For overnight visits there's a Hilton Hotel right next to the Aquarium, as well as lots of great restaurants.

It's a fun place for the whole family and would make a great weekend get-a-way!

Happy Mother's Day!

55 Coogan Boulevard
Mystic, CT 06335

Like them on facebook:

Follow them on twitter

There's lots of fun events going on at the Aquarium.  And they offer lots of discounts!
Big Y Card?  DISCOUNT!!! Foxwood Rewards Card?  DISCOUNT!!! Military? DISCOUNT!!
Check them all out on the website "Discounts and Promotions" click:  HERE!


Have you visited the Mystic Aquarium or an aquarium near you?  

Do you have a favorite sea creature? 

I'd love to hear about it in the comments below

Home Place Disclaimer: Our entrance fees to the aquarium and lunch at the snack bar were courtesy of Mystic Aquarium. However, all thoughts and opinions expressed herein are those of our own. We purchased the rain gear and photos ourselves.

Friday, May 10, 2013

New Haven Restaurant Week 2013 - Christopher Martins

This time of year there is sooo much going on...and I am sooo behind on posts!

During the week of April 21st through April 26th New Haven CT held their Annual Restaurant Week.

Because of all that was going on that week, I was only able to sample the wonderfulness of one restaurant, the oh so delicious Christopher Martins.
Christopher Martins in New Haven - New Haven Restaurant Week 2013

This was actually the first time that I've been to Christopher Martins, which is odd because it's been there on State Street New Haven for over twenty years. AND I've heard great things about it, namely, that their menu changes with the seasons due to the availability of local products and changing tastes in the spring, summer, fall, and winter seasons.

For restaurant week Christopher Martins had a separate lunch and dinner menu.  Lunch prixe fixe three course meals were $18.00 and dinner prixe fixe four course meal offerings were $32.00.

Two of my colleagues from work wanted to go, so we headed over for lunch on a Tuesday. We were lucky enough to find a parking space right in front, parking isn't really wonderful in New Haven, but Christopher Martins offers valet parking in the evenings, on Tuesdays through Sunday.  A great bonus BUT please be sure to call before you leave to be sure that a valet is actually available - I've heard that a valet is not always there. (Hmmm...that's NOT a good thing)

Although we neglected to make reservations, which meant we would need to eat in the pub, lucky for us, just as we walked in they had a cancellation, so we had a beautiful big window-side table in the dining room.  We were seated quickly, and a warm basket of fresh baked bread and olive oil for dipping was served as we perused the menu.
Does the mis-matched salt and pepper shakers bother you?
Allie and I decided to go with the Restaurant Week luncheon specials.

For our appetizers:

Allie ordered the BBQ Duck Confit Spring Rolls 
BBQ Duck Confit Spring Rolls - Christopher Martins New Haven Restaurant Week
Peking Duck slow cooked in an Asian inspired BBQ served with Szechuan Cole Slaw and reported that it was wonderful, with just the right amount of warm heat.

I ordered the Butternut Squash Ravioli 
Butternut Squash Ravioli - Christopher Martins New Haven Restaurant Week 2013
With candied Pecans in a Fresh Sage Cream with Shaved Parmesan, which needless to say was absolutely to die for.  The sauce was creamy good and flavorful, and the addition of the candied pecans complemented the squash as a subtly sweet nutty addition.

For our lunch

Allie ordered Chicken Saltimbocca
Chicken Saltimbocca - Christopher Martins New Haven Restaurant Week 2013
Chicken Breast layered with Prosciutto di Parma, Fresh Sage and Cato Corner Farm’s Vivace Bambino Cheese, over sautéed Baby Spinach with Mashed Potatoes. Allie reported that the chicken was delicious, but that she didn't care for the mashed potatoes.

I ordered the Chipotle Honey Grilled Salmon
Chipolte Honey Grilled Salmon - Christopher Martins New Haven Restaurant Week 2013

A great combination of Spicy Sweetness tops a grilled Atlantic Salmon Filet with Saffron infused Rice & Beans and Baby Spring Vegetables. It was oh, so, good! The salmon was perfectly cooked and not too sweet due to the spices used in the sides. Perfect.

Patty, who ordered off the menu, decided on a salad, which I can't seem to find on the menu online. It included mixed field greens, pine nuts, dried cranberries, and grilled polenta, as Patty is a vegetarian.

For dessert, included as our lunch prixe fixe, 

Allie ordered the Tira Misu
Lady Fingers soaked in Espresso and Kahlua and slathered with a cool Mascarpone Sabayon
Tira Misu - Christopher Martins New Haven Restaurant Week 2013

I ordered the White Chocolate Mousse, 
A Silky White Chocolate Mousse Topped With Chocolate Ganache…Award Winning
White Chocolate Mousse with Chocolate Ganache - Christopher Martins New Haven Restaurant Week
This was incredibly good, and I am such a fan of anything white chocolate. This dessert certainly didn't disappoint. As full as I was after three courses, I scraped the large glass bowl clean! YUM

If you have a chance to visit Christopher Martins, I would heartily recommend them.  The interior is on the small side, so make sure you have a reservation, and remember there is valet parking Tuesday through Saturday evenings.

Christopher Martins
860 State Street
New Haven, CT 06511 

"Like" them on facebook HERE

Note: Their website is a little bit clunky to use. Or maybe it's just me. :-)

On our way back through New Haven we passed the beautiful tulip display in the street meridian's courtesy of the 
City of New Haven and New Haven Parks & Works

Have you visited Christopher Martins?

Did you attend New Haven Restaurant Week?

I'd love to hear about it in the comments below!

Christopher Martins on Urbanspoon
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